China and Japan are getting along, for now. In a landmark summit set to take place Oct. 26, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to sign several agreements, covering everything from technological cooperation and intellectual property protections to avoiding conflict in the East China Sea. They are also expected to revive and expand a currency swap agreement that expired in 2013 amid tensions over a disputed island chain. The intensity of this dispute has always been something of a barometer in bilateral relations. But China has been in no position to challenge Japan directly in a long time, and there’s no reason to believe it will be able to any time soon. Both countries have therefore been happy to ignore their grievances in periods when they needed to cooperate on other issues. With the two countries under pressure from the U.S. on trade, technology, currency and defense matters – basically, everything Xi and Abe are expected to discuss – this is one such period.
Belarus walks a fine line between Russia and the West. Today, officials from Belarus and the World Trade Organization will host the first round of accession talks. Joining the organization has long been a priority for Belarus. Its membership in the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, after all, has failed to diversify trade and attract foreign investment. Meanwhile, Belarus’ foreign minister met with the EU commissioner for enlargement to discuss a potential bilateral agreement on priorities for partnership – talks the government in Minsk wants to complete by the end of this year. All these meetings take place just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Belarus to sign low-level agreements. Meetings are nice, and sometimes they are important, but Belarus is squarely in Russia’s orbit. There are limits to how far it can drift. You can bet Russia will keep tabs on this important part of its European buffer.
- South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries plans to carry out in 2019 a feasibility study for developing Russia’s Slavyanka port in the Sea of Japan.
- Norway said it will open a ground defense battle group of 180 soldiers at Porsangermoen, near the Russian border. A ranger company and cavalry battalion will be added in the coming years.
- Kazakhstan will soon increase its natural gas supplies to China from 5 billion cubic meters to 10 billion cubic meters.
- Fourteen members of Iran’s security forces stationed at a border guard base in Sistan-Baluchestan province have been kidnapped. A Sunni extremist group calling itself the Army of Justice has claimed responsibility.
- Romania is at risk of a natural gas crisis, according to a former director of Romgaz and TransGas. It imports energy from all the countries that are connected to its gas network (Russia, Bulgaria and Hungary) and drew from its strategic reserves for the first time in history.
- The chief of India’s naval staff is in talks with China as part of a larger effort to keep lines of communication and navigation in the Indian Ocean open.